Today I would like to share a brief excerpt from the Afterward portion of my unflinchingly honest memoir Ticket to Ride: The Promise of America. Enjoy!
I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen enough to know that patience, keeping your word, honesty, integrity, setting standards for yourself, saving your money, and always trying to better yourself are worthy goals, and you can benefit greatly by listening to your inner voice, and following your intuition—your heart.
I’m also reminded of the words from Shakespeare, who offered advice, through the voice of the fool in King Lear, to be modest and to take caution with your tongue:
Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
And thou shall have more
Than two tens to a score
I invite you to read IF by Rudyard Kipling, and The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost. These two poems inspired and encouraged me at an early age to set my own course and begin my own journey, independent and free.
And when times were tough, I was comforted by my faith in the future—believing in the promise of America and knowing full well that nothing lasts forever.
I have found that one success, no matter how small, will build upon itself. So I encourage you to take the first step, the first class, the first lesson, the first job, and begin your own journey. Don’t ever stop trying, even if you have doubts…especially if you have doubts.
Always enjoy your friends as they enjoy you, but never allow them to interfere with the goals you’ve set for yourself. During a reflective moment in the movie Million Dollar Baby, Morgan Freeman’s character says, “…and he gave his all, for a dream that only he could see.” That scene hit me personally.
* * *
Never forget that much of the hard work has already been done for us. The fertile soil of freedom has been nurtured by generations of Americans willing to sacrifice everything. From Bunker Hill, to Omaha Beach, to Vietnam and beyond—the broken hearts, the spilled blood and the endless tears…the price paid in full.
If you’re willing to work and work and work some more, you’ll put that hard-fought, God-given freedom to good use. And as you gain confidence, set your sights on the impossible. Then watch with a smile as your dreams race across the endless wonders of a midnight sky.
Success in life is not necessarily about winning or losing; it’s the journey, and the many wonderful people you meet along the way. It’s the desire to achieve something greater than personal ambition…an attempt to make a difference. To leave the world a better place because you dared, you tried, you set an example.
Several years ago, I broke open a fortune cookie and read the message tucked inside: “Life is an exciting adventure or it’s nothing at all.” I folded it and tucked it in my wallet in case I ever needed reminding.